Gillman Barracks + Wine, Dine & Life

It's not easy to find an uncrowded place in Singapore where one could sit down comfortably for hours to unwind, daydream, have a drink, munch some snacks, read a book or do some work, all in a quiet and undisturbed environment.

We seem to be obsessed with the building of shopping malls. Look at how many we have at Jurong East Central today, which I guess many retailers are suffering from their poor businesses, and the occasional indoor showers. In addition, we also seem to be addicted to the notion of "value-adding" by introducing more retail and F&B to anything, everything. Just look at the expansion of retail spaces in MRT stations over the years, and now our airport. I wonder if such key infrastructures have forgotten their primary purposes. A job well done for enhancing retail experience in MRT stations indeed, but look at the problems we have on the rail system today.

With all these new retail/F&B destinations, we are spoilt for choice to wine and dine. However, most places are often crowded and noisy, often filled with screaming kids and dysfunctional families. Lately, there have also been many indie cafes sprouting around Singapore, all heavily decorated and quirkily named. Perfectly cool places to hangout and have a photo taken and posted on Instagram. Somehow, they just lack the comfort I need to spend an afternoon or evening, to do my work or simply to do nothing in peace.

Fortunately, there are still a few places I've been going, which allow me to tuck myself quietly in a corner for hours to enjoy my drink. One of my most favourite and commonly visited places is Gillman Barracks (GB). Nestled in a lush greenery of matured rain trees and frangipanis, GB is located along Alexandra Road, opposite the Hort Park. There are three F&B options there at this moment with a few additions coming our way.

The landmark building of Gillman Barracks - Block 9. It houses 3 art galleries.

GB is never meant to be another Holland Village or Dempsey Hill. Primarily, it is a destination for contemporary art where notable works of Yayoi Kusama, Ai Weiwei and Annie Leibovitz breathe life into the colonial black-and-white buildings. This is good for me as it would never be as rowdy and overly pulsating as other F&B destinations around, even with the few new outlets coming up.

Like on many other occasions, I've decided to spend an afternoon at GB to have a few drinks, prepare my lecture notes, and catch up with a few friends at each outlet.

Housed in a pre-war black-and-white building, Masons provides a peaceful and comfortable environment for one to enjoy the afternoon, whether its an earl grey or Hoegaarden in your hand.

My first stop was Masons, a restaurant and bar offering affordable European cuisine and a wide selection of tasty pizzas, good for both lunch and dinner. It is also a perfect place for business lunch with their affordable 2 or 3 course set lunches ($28 or $33++ respectively). As the restaurant is housed within a standalone black-and-white building, it is also a popular venue for events of all sorts, from weddings to corporate functions. Most importantly, they run a Happy Hour promotion from 4pm to 7pm daily where all alcoholic drinks (by glass) get a 50% off, including on weekends! The outdoor verandah with its cushy sofas is my favourite place to hangout with some ice cold Hoegaarden in the afternoon. And did I forget to mention the free pizzas?

The verandah at Masons - bright and generous space to relax or do some work. If it gets too hot in the afternoon, there is always an air conditioned dining hall.

A great deal 7 days a week!

A good selection of alcoholic drinks, and more on the wine list. All 50% off (by glass) during Happy Hour.

Enjoying my cooler and cushy sofa at Masons.

Free pizza samplers during Happy Hour. Not bite size but full size pizzas. Take all you want in fact.

Working in air-con comfort. Beautiful indoor dining area with bright and generous space to do some work.

More pizzas, yes, for free. No compromise in quality and ingredients at all.
No. 8 Lock Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108936
+65 6694 2216
Open everyday from 12 noon to 11 pm. Except till 10 pm on Sundays.

Just a minute's walk away across the car park, Timbre @ Gillman offers the familiar environment of casual dining and 'live' music. Unlike the other Timbres in town, which are more energetic and often filled with yuppies and attention-seeking loud conversations, Timbre @ Gillman is a relatively peaceful and more matured place where one could relax, have a whiskey and unwind the day in an open and natural environment. 'Live' bands start at 7.30pm/8pm daily (closed on Sun) and all performances are on acoustics, which is perfect. The friendly staff whom I can always have a chat with have definitely made my pint of Erdinger less lonely. The food menu is different from other outlets, offering many options for a hearty dinner with family and friends. A perfect destination for me as it offers a very ideal and balanced atmosphere of tranquillity and vitality. Not forgetting the free WI-FI to do my work before the local musicians take on the stage.

Great ambience at Timbre @ Gillman. It's hard to find a restaurant surrounded by lush greenery and an open field. Perfect environment to unwind and hang out after a long day's work.

Regular beer promotions come with free nachos with beef salsa or sausages and mash.

For a change and beer break - a refreshing mojito. Timbre @ Gillman has a list of special cocktails only available at Gillman.

Nightly 'live' band performing. A gleaming smile from Sara of 53A (on Thu), one of my favourite bands.

Wrapping up with my usual drink at Timbre.
Timbre @ Gillman
9A Lock Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108926
+65 6694 4201
Mon - Thu: 4 pm to 11.30 pm
Fri - Sat: 5 pm to 12.30 am

Further down along Malan Road, an inconspicuous single-storey shed sits humbly by the side of the road, radiating a faint welcoming glow from its bar from afar. The Naked Finn is the smallest of the three F&B outlets in GB. But small doesn't mean less. One can expect the best and freshest of seafood here, thanks to the fastidious owner. I'm not talking about fiery chilli crabs and big groupers, but lightly grilled razor shells and scallops all beautifully cooked and served in petit portions, wonderful to savour and beautiful to admire. The small set up means reservation is preferred and good luck for walk-ins. Other than the wide array of succulent seafood one could expect (often served and introduced in their scientific names by the owner), the cocktails are also out of this world. Simply, freshness is their middle name.

The inconspicuous shed and modest signage of the famous Naked Finn.

Cocktail list. Try one on each visit.

As fresh as it can get.

My all-time favourite cocktail - fresh coconut and Bacardi rum.

Grilled baby squid. A perfect snack with the cocktails.

Wrapping up my Gillman F&B trail for the day at the Naked Finn with an earl grey tea-infused Gordon's London dry gin with Japanese peach liqueur.
The Naked Finn
41 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 109454
+65 6694 0807 (call between 4pm - 6pm for reservation)
Refer to website for opening hours. Closed on Sun.

What could be better than having a place one feels at home, has service staff who know you by your name from door to door, does not have crowds of noisy families with kids, maids and prams, could savour mouth watering pizzas for free, enjoy thirst-quenching beers accompanied by acoustic 'live' bands, and end the day with a refreshing glass of coconut Bacardi while watching the sun sets. All in one great, charming location. Well, it would have been even more perfect if I could bring home that $5 mil Picasso painting previously hanging in one of the galleries before I go.

For more info and directions to Gillman Barracks, please visit:
Or simply, give me a call.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blogpost on gillman barracks! Very interesting place to visit, just like the beautiful Sentosa Cove

    Sentosa Cove